Child Advocacy

In the United States, 28% of all youth ages 14 to 17 have been sexually victimized over the course of their lifetime.  This breaks down to 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys who experience child sexual abuse.[1] Even more children are exposed to domestic violence and other forms of abuse that put them at a greater risk for being sexually abused. At Jane Doe, we aim to help these children when they become entwined in the legal system.

When seeking services for your child(ren), please read the below information carefully. In some cases, calling our office may actually disqualify your child from the services of a Jane Doe lawyer.

Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) in Family Court. In family court cases involving child custody, parents are commonly in disagreement about the best custody and visitation arrangements for children. In these cases, where both parents are frequently represented by their own lawyers, the judge may appoint an attorney specifically to represent the best interests of the children involved. This attorney, called a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL), gets to know your child and the people involved in their daily lives. The GAL will make a recommendation to the judge about what they feel is in a child’s best interests. At Jane Doe, we provide GAL services to children who have been directly impacted or exposed to any kind of abuse, not necessarily just sexual abuse.

To have a Jane Doe lawyer appointed as the GAL for your child in a family court case, please inform your lawyer or the judge of your wishes. You may provide them with the following information for the GAL you would like to have appointed:

Name: Rachna Goel, Esq.
Bar Number: 64479
Address: 209 Clarkson Executive Park, Ellisville, MO 63011
Phone: 314-329-5339
Email: rachna@janedoeadvocacy.org

Important Note: Please do NOT call the Jane Doe office to seek GAL services. Doing so will create a conflict of interest and disqualify Jane Doe from advocating for your child as a GAL. Instead, please take the above information directly to your lawyer or the judge in the case and request that a lawyer from Jane Doe be appointed as GAL.

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Attorneys for Children. Representing children in court requires some extra care and effort, especially in the aftermath of sexual abuse. At Jane Doe, we represent children who need attorneys of their own. As a part of working directly with minors, we focus on working with the entire family to help maintain healthy family dynamics throughout the legal process. We also work creatively to address each child’s situation as unique so that we may obtain the best possible outcome for the long-term. Some instances where children need lawyers may include:

  • Children as Trial Witnesses. In a criminal case where someone is being charged with abusing a child, the child may be called to testify at an interview, deposition, and/or in open court. For most children, this process can be terrifying, especially in expedited cases in which the alleged abuser is a juvenile. Each courtroom functions differently with regards to how a child will be questioned and who will be allowed to serve as moral support for a child. Jane Doe has crafted a unique program that provides a lawyer for children who are called to serve as victim-witnesses in criminal prosecution. This allows Jane Doe to ensure that children are connected with necessary mental health resources, are informed about the process of a criminal prosecution, and know what to expect when being questioned in different settings. By providing a lawyer for child witnesses, we also make a point to educate and guide parents and guardians through the criminal justice process and help them make informed decisions about what is in the best legal interests of their children.
  • Teen Parents. When teenagers have children of their own, issues concerning child custody and child support arise relatively quickly. If the teen parent is under the age of 17 then there may be other criminal charges in the picture that impact who is able to care for the child. At Jane Doe, we work with teen parents to develop the tools and plans that they need to be successful long-term. This may include joint collaboration meetings, mediation-like sessions, and/or courtroom litigation.
  • Orders of Protection (“Restraining Orders”). While the official age of adulthood in Missouri is 18, minors can file for an order of protection (commonly called a “restraining order”) at the age of 17. They may do this with or without their parents being involved. For adults, we have an established coaching program for orders of protection. We work more closely with 17-year olds and/or high school students by representing them in court for order of protection hearings.

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Want to talk to someone?
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figure_talk_giant_phone_400_clr_2697We are happy to offer you a no-charge telephone consultation with a lawyer to discuss legal help for yourself or for your child. To speak with us, please call our office at 314-329-5339 between 9am-7pm CT, Monday-Friday.

If you you would rather pre-schedule a safe time to speak with an attorney, please  click here.

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[1] The National Center for Victims of Crime

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